HAKATA, Japan: Last year, the value of second hand motor vehicles exports from Japan to Botswana increased by 27 percent to reach $13.1 million.
The figure is expected to increase as consumers continue to shy away from buying new cars. A report by Japan External Trade Organisation (JETRO) says that from January to November, Japan exported cars worth $8.5 million to Botswana and busses and trucks valued at $4.6 million. During the same period, Botswana imported $124,000 worth of spare parts from Japan.
In a briefing recently, JETRO officials revealed that the transport sector takes the lion's share of exports by principal commodities to Botswana.
Mmegi has learnt that most second hand cars exported to Africa are initially condemned to go to the scrap yard. But dealers who are mostly foreign nationals buy them at bargain prices and export them.
A dealer in second hand minibus in Hakata, Toshiyuki Nakajima of AID Company said recently that exports of second hand vehicles to Africa are poised to increase as shipping companies offer reduced prices due to reduced business in the transportation of new cars, electronics and other goods as the economic downturn bites.
Exports by Japan plunged more than 45 percent in January according to data released here last week.
Imported second hand vehicles have now littered roads in urban centres of African countries including Botswana. Environmentalists
The ambassador of Botswana to Japan, Oscar Motswagae said he is aware of the dealers who export 'condemned' vehicles to Africa. "We once discussed this issue with former President Festus Mogae on his official visit here and he felt that Batswana should be given an opportunity to own cars."
Motswagae however said Botswana should introduce standards and regulations on the condition of cars that should be allowed on its roads.
Meanwhile, the machinery sector came second to vehicles in Japanese exports destined for Botswana last year with a total value of $647,000. This includes power generators, construction machines and mechanical handling equipments.
Manufactured goods like textile yarn, fabrics and rubber imported by Botswana last year from Japan amounted to only $141,000.
Japan imported diamonds from Botswana worth $29.2 million. The figure looks small though Japan is the second largest market for Botswana's diamonds. This is because the Asian country only consumes the final product, which is jewellery. The value of Japanese imports to Botswana is going to drop drastically this year, as the global downturn has impacted negatively on the jewellery retail business.